July 24, 2009

What do you really think of Asian Americans?

I just took the Asian Implicit Association Test. It turns out that a whopping 60 percent of the test takers associate European American with “American” and Asian American with “Foreigner.” And you might wonder where Asian American resentment comes from. This test is relevant because many of the bloggers in the recent back-and-forth on race seem to have very solid notions of their egalitarian attitudes. I highly doubt it. If the cultural hegemons want to have an honest dialogue on race in American Buddhism, they will have to acknowledge the possibility that they hold distasteful implicit biases. I would strongly suggest visiting Harvard’s Project Implicit and taking the Asian IAT. First write down what you think your biases are, take the test and then see how they match up. Find out what you really think of Asian Americans. I can tell you that I was surprised.


  1. Interesting test, but I have no clue as to its validity or how it was developed. My result was a moderate association of Asian American with American and European American with Foreign. Respondants like me were something like 6 percent. I am a white American age 51 who follows the Theravadan vehicle. Interesting blog, btw. I'll be stopping by :-)

  2. We already know racial bias exists unconciously. Try reading Malcolm Gladwell's blink where he covers the same testing but with associations of Black and White faces. He talks about it quite a bit since his mother is Black and he came out as racially biased, slightly, against Blacks. It is partially a product, at best guess, of our media portrayals of White as "normal" and the like.

    I'm not sure how knowledge of this test and implicit biases is really going to help things.

  3. Last week I went to dinner with an old friend from when we were young researchers in Paris. We parked in the garage of a Borders bookstore, and for the sake of parking validation, she convinced me to purchase Blink. As soon as I came to that chapter on implicit association, I ran to the computer and logged in. I actually expected the same result as Malcolm Gladwell—there are so many implicit messages in our society that I was quite ready to see my own “stranger from a different shore” bias—but it turns out I was among the 2% who strongly associated Asian American with “American” and European American with “Foreign” in contrast to European American with “American” and Asian American with “Foreign”. As both Richard and I are sitting on the tail, I’m honestly curious if Buddhist Americans are significantly less like to associate Asian Americans with “Foreign” than your average American. (Of course, the logical side of me knows that two points tells you nothin’!) Did you take the test?

  4. @Al: I'm not sure how knowledge of this test and implicit biases is really going to help things. This point is worth being addressed in a longer post on Dharma Folk, and in less than 700 words too!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.